On the presidential campaign trail, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has promised to aggressively fight HIV/AIDS, which he termed a “national and international tragedy.” In a statement put out on Nov. 19, Huckabee voiced support for “President Bush’s proposal to double our initial commitment from $15 billion to $30 billion over the next five years for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR),” and promised to go even further:
While we must continue our global leadership on HIV/AIDS, we must also take care of our own. My administration will be the first to have an overarching strategy for dealing with HIV and AIDS here in the United States, with a partnership between the public and private sectors that will provide necessary financing and a realistic path toward our goals. We must prevent new infections and provide more accessible care. We must transform the promise of a vaccine and a cure into reality.
This rhetoric is a dramatic departure from Huckabee’s statements in 1992, when he was running for a seat in the U.S. Senate. At that time, Huckabee proposed a quarantine for all AIDS patients and a moratorium on all federal funding. AP reports:
“If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague,” Huckabee wrote.
“It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population.”
Huckabee added that “additional federal spending” can’t be “justified” to fight AIDS, proposing instead that “multimillionaire celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor [and] Madonna” be “encouraged to give out of their own personal treasuries.”
In late 1991, there were almost 200,000 AIDS patients in the United States, and 126,159 people had died from the syndrome. It was also “common knowledge that AIDS could not be spread by casual contact.” Also in 1991, LA Lakers star Magic Johnson had brought public awareness to the disease by announcing that he had AIDS.
UPDATE: Huckabee has introduced a quarantine-like plan for undocumented immigrants. NDN’s Simon Rosenberg writes, “In a major reversal, Mike Huckabee announced a new immigration plan that calls for the 11-12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States to leave the country in 120 days.”